By Andrew Starke
Clubs Australia has called on the commercial television watchdog Free TV Australia to investigate 60 Minutes for its decision to fly a known problem gambler to Queensland so they could film him playing a poker machine.
On Sunday night (Aug 2) 60 Minutes screened a story on poker machines which featured John Duncombe, who reporter Tara Brown admitted has been a problem gambler for 15 years.
Channel Nine flew Duncombe to Queensland so he could play a poker machine at a club participating in a State Government funded trial that restricts people’s gambling session to a pre-determined monetary amount.
Clubs Australia has been told by those who observed the filming that 60 Minutes also provided Duncombe with the money to gamble in a set-up that required him to sit in the gaming area of the club for 30 minutes.
CEO of Clubs Australia David Costello said the actions of 60 Minutes were incredibly irresponsible.
“Watching the piece, I could hardly believe my eyes,” he said. “60 Minutes willingly risked undoing years of problem gambling counselling in their chase for TV ratings.”
“The rate of problem gambling in Queensland is just 0.47%, which means 60 Minutes had available to them the views of almost 4 million locals who gamble responsibly.”
Costello alleged that Duncombe spoke of his ‘unease’ while sitting in front of a poker machine, but that this footage was left out of the insert.
“Channel Nine should follow the lead of the ABC who wasted no time condemning the Chaser when they broadcast the Make a Realistic Wish sketch,” he said. “The 60 Minutes piece was sloppy and sensationalist.”